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Mobile boutique helps empower First Coast students by letting them pick out new clothes, accessories

The Hanger is a mobile boutique that provides new clothing, accessories, and basic necessities to students who cannot afford them in a discreet setting.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — It was Christmas Day 2020 when Lenny Abbott received life-altering news.

“I was diagnosed with a grade IV brain cancer. And they gave me probably between three months and about a little over a year to live,” Abbott said. “I’m still living.”

Less than a year later his daughter, Hannah Grant, say her mother learned she had the same rare cancer.

“They've been divorced for 25 years. My father lives at Callahan. My mom lives in Georgia where I am, and nine months later she had a seizure. She was taken to the emergency room, and they found a mass in her brain as well. And then it was confirmed that it was also glioblastoma."

Grant says she became almost obsessed with her parents’ malignant brain tumors, desperate to find the cause and a cure.

Credit: Hannah Grant
Hannah Grant with her father, Lenny Abbott

It was during that same time her fifth-grade daughter asked if they could buy a classmate clothes. She had noticed the girl’s clothes were dirty and tattered and wanted to help.

“It truly is a beauty from ashes story,” Grant said.

That led Grant to launch The Hanger, a nonprofit mobile boutique.

“It never would have happened without those diagnoses and me needing to keep busy,” Grant said. “It's been a great experience for my daughter to see me channeling this nervous energy of the things that I can't control and put them into something that I can at least you know, give back and try to make somebody else's life better.”

The organization collects new clothing, accessories and necessities and distributes them discreetly at middle and high schools to students in need. 

Currently, it serves students in Brantley, Pierce and Ware counties.

“When they enter the trailer, it's not you know, a charitable experience. It's ‘Welcome to The Hanger. What can we help you find?’”

Students pick out what they want inside the enclosed cargo trailer renovated to look like a boutique.

Credit: Hannah Grant
Hannah Grant with The Hanger Board Member Emily Hadaway.

“Boutiques from the counties that we serve donate to us from their sale racks and previous seasons,” Grant said. “It's fully equipped with clothing sizes, extra small through 4XL. We've got shoes, socks, undergarments. We do toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, shampoo, accessories, jewelry. Those are always the most fun to shop for. They really enjoy, you know, just topping off their outfits.”

When students walk out, she says they leave with more than just possessions.

“If you could see the way that they enter, versus whether they exit their confidence already is just like so much higher.”

“The results of the nonprofit really will change the life of many of these young people for good,” Abbott said.

Anchored by faith, Grant says she’s paying forward lessons she learned from father and turning a difficult situation into an opportunity to help others. She is treasuring every moment she gets to spend with both her mother and her father.

“My first lesson to my family was acknowledge that the will of God is perfect,” Abbott said. “Not only do I say acknowledge the will of God is perfect, but also accept the will of God is perfect. Acceptance is an important part of your life to be able to continue forward and to enjoy this life that we have. Life is a gift, and a gift is meant to be cherished and enjoyed. And a synonym for gift is present. Live in the present.”

Grants is passionate about carrying on her father’s legacy and hopes to expand The Hanger to more school districts. If you would like to donate brand-new clothing or get involved visit The Hanger’s website.

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